Sunday, February 8, 2015

Chang'e-5 T1 service module completes orbital tests

Weeks following the successful test of China's re-entry vehicle Xiaofei, anticipating the scheduled 2017 Chang'e-5 sample-return mission, the "T1" service module, in lunar orbit, has been put through its paces rehearsing next year's landing.
Updated, 1840 UT, 9 February

China's state news agency Xinhua reports the Chang'e-5 T1 service module in lunar orbit "has finished tests of orbiting technologies" ahead of the scheduled 2017 sample return mission.

Launched October 24, the Chang'e-5 T1 service module released its smaller passenger, the Xiaofei high-speed reentry test article, and was later steered into lunar orbit following three Lissajous circuits around L2, the semi-stable Sun-Earth-Moon second Lagrange point (L2), roughly 1.5 million km from Earth, in the direction opposite the Sun.

The interval was China's second visit to L2. After its 2011 primary mission in lunar orbit, Chang'e-2 vehicle was orbited L2 from August until the following April. The probe moved on for a very close encounter with the asteroid 4179 Toutatis, December 13, 2012.

The most celebrated part of the Chang'e-5 T1 mission was completed November 1 when, following a free-return trajectory behind the Moon the Xiaofei test article successfully returned to Earth.

Meanwhile, Xinhua reported by mid-January the T1 service module had been maneuvered to the Moon's vicinity and inserted into lunar orbit, later circularized to an altitude roughly 200 km every 127 minutes. 

"The orbiter conducted three tests between Friday and Saturday," Xinhua reported, "to modulate the speed, height and orbit, rehearing next year's Chang'e-5 sampling mission," this "according to a statement of the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense."

Some Related Posts:
The Chang'e-3 mission to the Moon - a special issue (January 27, 2015)
Chang'e-5 T1 service module tightens lunar orbit (January 15, 2015)
It's not bragging if you do it (December 9, 2013)

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